The Importance of Celebrating Every (even small) Milestone in Recovery
My sobriety journey has been one of the greatest adventures in my life, so far. I just recently celebrated my sobriety anniversary date, and looking back from where I started to where I am today, well, it is simply amazing. Through my sobriety journey, I have come to realize the importance of celebrating milestones, regardless of how early or late into your journey you are.
What is a recovery milestone?
Milestones mark your progress towards your bigger or longer-reaching goals. It is recognizing and celebrating your movement forward, no matter how small of a step it may seem. These small moments are an integral part of recovery because it is the small moments that keep us going when things get rough. It can be too easy to lose yourself in the larger concerns, worries, and stresses of life. Taking the time to step back and celebrate your achievements can keep you on track.
The importance of celebrating anniversaries and milestones in recovery is impossible to ignore.
How Do Milestones Help?
Sobriety is a journey that will last a lifetime. Celebrating milestones never stops because the journey never stops. If you are someone new to recovery, or someone struggling with relapse, reinforcing your milestones, and taking the time to celebrate them can make all the difference. By recognizing your small milestones, you’ll feel a boost in your confidence. The milestones show you are heading in the right direction, and that is something you should feel amazing about. Milestones can help keep you motivated. I know how hard it can be to maintain motivation. Some days are tougher than others, but your milestones will help remind you why you are motivated to stay sober. I know celebrating my milestones was crucial to staying motivated. Recognizing your milestones also helps to reinforce the strength of the sobriety you’ve accomplished so far. There are days where you’ll feel down and will find yourself focusing on the more negative aspects of your journey. Milestones help you to look past those negative thoughts and focus on what is profoundly important.
Milestones in Recovery
While there may be some obvious milestones, such as a week, month, 6 months, year etc., there are plenty of other milestones that you may decide deserves celebration. Milestones are personal, and everyone has a different journey. When it comes to milestones, it is all about what you deem worthy of a celebration, large or small!
Some milestones you could (and should) celebrate include:
- 24 hours – You’ve taken the first step and decided it is time to commit to a better future. While this isn’t a huge accomplishment in the grand scheme of things, it is the first serious one on your path to sobriety. You deserve to feel proud about it.
- One Week – By this point, you should be past a lot of the physical symptoms of becoming truly sober. You’re most likely still in a vulnerable place, but you’re already making great strides in putting your health first.
- 30 days – An entire month! By this point you’ve created new routines and habits for yourself. You still may struggle, but your goals are clear.
- 90 days – Your body is accepting the new you and is continuing its healing journey. The risk of relapse continues to decrease as your daily habits have changed and shifted to sober goals.
- 1 year – Now this is a HUGE accomplishment! 365 days of staying focused, motivated, and committing to the new you.
- 5+ years – Your life is one you may have never seen yourself having. You might have even reached a point where your anniversary date doesn’t get as much attention. It should! You are still rocking it, and you deserve to celebrate your accomplishments, regardless of how much time has passed.
These are just a few examples of important milestones to celebrate and not all celebrations will fall in line with a day on the calendar. When it comes to moving into sobriety, there are a lot of other accomplishments and goals that you may have set. It is important to celebrate these moments. It could be small daily accomplishments, making amends with friends or family you may have hurt in the past due to your addiction, or you just want to celebrate life, because life is worth celebrating!
Some other instances of great milestones to consider include:
- Breaking the physical dependency. This is a huge milestone, but one that is difficult to attribute to a specific date. Physical dependency reveals itself differently for everyone, so you’ll know best when these symptoms finally subside.
- Achieving personal goals you’ve made for yourself. This may mean making new friends or reconnecting with old ones. Perhaps your addiction once stopped you from holding a job, but you’ve been successfully employed once again. This could also be for starting a new hobby. Perhaps you’ve learned your first song on the guitar or finished your first craft project. Whatever it may be, celebrate it! Addiction often takes away our drives and passions and replaces it with the drugs or alcohol of your choice. You’ll find renewed desire to pursue passions you once had, as well as develop new ones. Maybe losing some weight, working out or learning to have healthier eating habits all are celebratory type events….
- Emotional – Many people feel that they get their emotions back once they commit to sober living. Drugs and alcohol can stunt your emotional responses, so at times, having these feelings again can be a bit overwhelming. In time, you’ll adjust and learn healthy coping mechanisms. Rewarding yourself for moments where you are emotionally available can help to reinforce this change.
- Relationships – Addiction can impact relationships in a variety of ways. You may have lost friends or family due to your addiction. You may also have had to end relationships once you decided to commit to being sober. Through sincere effort and time, you can heal many of the relationships you once may have considered lost.
Take the time to write down your goals, both long and short-term. This allows you to keep track of the important days, as well as keeps you motivated to see how quickly they are approaching. This also gives you the opportunity to create and maintain a sobriety journal. Keeping track of your thoughts and feelings throughout the process can be cathartic. It also gives you the chance to look back at how far you have come. If journaling isn’t for you, there are plenty of apps available that make tracking your process and milestones quick and easy. It may even provide an opportunity to connect to others who are progressing in their journey.
Celebrate Your Recovery Anniversaries
You may be asking, what do you do to celebrate your recovery? Or, how do you celebrate 6 months of sobriety? Or a year?
Celebrating safely is key to continuing your journey. Safe celebrations, or non-triggering celebrations, may seem odd at first. For many addicts, celebration once meant drug use or drinking, and learning to celebrate again without these aspects can be difficult. In time, you’ll learn what celebrating is about, and it’s about feeling good, having fun, and enjoying those around you. No matter how small the milestone, celebrate it!
When it comes to celebration ideas, the possibilities are endless, but these are a few of my favorites:
- Get together with loved ones! Surrounding yourself with like-minded people can help keep you motivated. Your milestones are a true accomplishment and sharing that with others can help keep you focused and forward thinking. Even if you can’t get together with friends and family, it is important to continue to share your milestones along the way. Even a small accomplishment is another step towards maintaining a sober life. You’ve decided to change your world for the better; you deserve to be proud enough to share your accomplishments.
- Enjoy the outdoors. The outdoors provides an opportunity to clear your head and take a break from the day-to-day demands. The great thing about the outdoors is that there are plenty of activities to enjoy, regardless of the season. This could be something as simple as having a backyard cookout, relaxing on the beach, or taking a hike through nature. In the winter months, you can ski or snowmobile. What matters most is that it is an activity you find fulfillment in doing.
- Travel – Get out and enjoy your new life! Maybe you’ll take that trip you always wanted to, but just couldn’t for whatever reason. It doesn’t have to be something exotic, but putting yourself in a new environment once in a while can help you feel refreshed and recharged.
- Food – Food offers us so many ways to treat ourselves. I love a greasy slice of pizza, or a loaded bowl of ice cream. Go to a new restaurant or visit an old favorite. What matters is that it is a treat, and not part of your normal routine. You deserve the reward!
- Giving back is another great way to celebrate a milestone. This could be donating to a local charity, or spending a few hours volunteering at a homeless kitchen or food bank. Sometimes one of the best rewards you can give yourself is helping someone else.
Remember to Celebrate the Milestones, Big or Small
Milestones help you remember what your goals and aspirations are. Regardless of where you are in your recovery journey, establishing goals both large and small will help keep you on track. Motivation is key to your success. You must remind yourself that you’re doing great, and that any achievement is worth feeling proud. You decided to change your life, and following through will only help you continue to live the best life possible. Sober life has its challenges, but it will always be better than where you could be if you had remained in the harmful world of addiction.
If you are just starting out, struggling with relapse, or want to renew your passion for the sober life, contact me so we can talk about your personal story. Let’s share this journey together!
As always, stay strong!